A Black Man Responds to His White Neighbor’s Passive-Agressive Note with This Perfect Message

Relationships between neighbors in apartment buildings can be tricky enough without throwing racism into the mix. So when Richard Brookshire received this note from his neighbors, he was both dumbfounded and frustrated with their tone. As he mentions, he’s the only man of color in the building paying market rate for an apartment and saw no reason why his white neighbors below would immediately threaten police action against him without so much as speaking to him.

Here’s the original note that they sent to him:

It reads, “Regarding last night, it is extremely rude and inconsiderate to scream and stomp around your apartment until almost 2 a.m.,” the note read. “A complaint has been submitted to the management. Next time this will go straight to the police. Please learn your manners.”

See his response on the next page.

It reads:

To: The Passive Aggressive Neighbor and His Wife / Apartment 5-J From: Richard / Apartment 6-J

Re: I’m Finna Tell You What You Not Gon’ Do October 6th 2016

This letter serves a formal response to a note left by you expressing, in no uncertain terms, your intent to notify building management and the authorities of what you perceived to be the inconsiderate volume of my speaking voice in the evening hours of October 5, 2016. First, let me be clear in addressing my lack of bother for your grievance and resolve to not be coerced to remedial action by your idle threats or seemingly pervasive white tears. I, the tenant in apartment 6-J, having secured this rental property through earnings / made and credit / earned, have no inherent or expressly stated obligation to accommodate your hyper-sensitivities, or those of your spouse when occupying my home. Though I empathized with the emotional distress brought on by sleep deprivation, citing my voice as the root-cause for your incapacity to attain restful slumber is both improbable and juvenile. Even in the off chance that my voice had been above what you consider to be considerate, the aggressive posturing of your note to address the matter was wholly unnecessary and, quite frankly, unproductive.”

Second, your lack of both interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence reflects poorly on you as a neighbor, and frankly an American. As one of the only tenants of color occupying this building at full market rate, I find it personally abhorrent that you’d levy the threat of involving the authorities for an insignificant infraction such as the one you noted in your poorly written and ill-thought-out correspondence. As a Black man, I take these overt actions as a direct threat to my physical and psychological well-being and as an act of violence upon me (See attached list of 821 men, women, and children killed by police or in police custody to date in 2016). This threat cannot be taken lightly. To that end, I am submitting my formal complaint to both the New York City Police Department, the American Civil Liberties Union and the District Community Board so that they are made aware of your callous and irrational threats upon my person. Lastly, I think it’s worth reminding you that you currently reside in Northern Manhattan, an enclave of ethnic and racial diversity that existed in community well before your gentrifying arrival. In the words of Robert Jones, Jr., ‘one of the great divides between white people and black people (or the wealthy and the not wealthy) is noise.’ Look forward to me continuing to make it at the volume in which I determine is acceptable. Should you feel the need to threaten me again, please do so in person so that an amenable solution can be reached.

Kind regards, Richard Scott Brookshire III, MPA

Your #VeryBlack Neighbor #blacklivesmatter”

The response has now gone viral in an effort to highlight not just his reaction, but the prevalence of so-called “passive-aggressive racism” that is just as real and damaging, but is often hidden behind manners and insinuation, rather than outwardly projected.